Pakistan wants more AH-1F helicopter gunships. Last year, eight of these were delivered to Pakistan. The last AH-1F in use by active duty U.S. Army units was in 1999, and the last reserve units replaced them with AH-64s in 2005.
The three ton AH-1F is equipped with a three barrel 20mm automatic cannon, and 750 rounds of ammo. Also carried are four TOW, or eight Hellfire missiles. The AH-1F can also carry unguided rockets or Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. Most importantly, the AH-1F is equipped for night operations. It has a crew of two and stays in the air for about four hours per sortie. Max speed is about 270 kilometers an hour, and cruising speed is about two-thirds that. The aircraft also carries countermeasures for anti-aircraft missiles. The U.S. Marine Corps still uses a version of the AH-1, and many foreign countries do as well.
Currently, Pakistan is also using armed transport helicopters as gunships, as well as twenty AH-1S helicopter gunships, which can only be used in daylight. Pakistan wants to upgrade these to AH-1Fs, and wants to do this quickly.
The AH-1 has proved to be a decisive weapon in the fight against Taliban tribesmen along the Afghan border. The Pakistanis also want more night vision gear, Hellfire missiles and protective vests for the infantry. The gunships, missiles, night vision and protective vests all keep down casualties among the Pakistani infantry. This is also important in the fight against the tribesmen, who have long terrorized the people in the lowlands of Punjab and Sind. For these lowlander infantry to defeat the tribesmen, without taking heavy casualties, is a big deal in Pakistan. And this American technology makes it possible.